Why Western-Based Self-help Don’t Work On Muslims

Some people are born with talent, some people are born with an amazing drive to succeed, while others rely on self-help material to motivate themselves. Let’s face many of us in the Muslim world do not have a good relationship with motivation. Instead of seeking motivation, we have motivation coming to us in form of a stick. You either do it or you’ll go to HELL.

So when threat does not work anymore you began to look for something that nourishes your mind. That is when you go to the self-help section in the library, and all the content is in English and written by non-Muslims. There is nothing wrong with this kind of books except it is secular which leave spirituality out of it. This is like taking the wheels off a car and expect it to take you from point A to point B.

Secular Self-Help

The biggest problem many Muslims have with this books is with the supremacy of the self. It is those concept like “You create your own future” or “you are the captain of your ship”. As Muslim, these ideas create conflicts instead of growth. So instead of reaching for the stars, you are thrown into uncertainty.

But now we have, many self-help books are written from an Islamic perspective, many websites on in Islamic self-help. When it come to Islamic self-help we are talking about the self help that is in line with the Quran and Sunnah. So we look for experts to interview on the subject.

We found many but most of them lack the credential, they are not trained in the field of Islamic studies. But we do find people who are experts then they are either too academic that they’ll bore us to death. Which leaves us with one person: Abu Muawiyah Ismail Kamdar.

You  can find many of his book on Amazon. He also the founder of Here is our interview with Abu Muawiyah Ismail Kamdar (AMIK) about living a halal lifestyle with Islamic self-help.

The Difference Between Secular and Islamic Self-Help : How is Islamic self-help different from modern motivational especially western self-help which is flooding the market?


I believe that Islamic Self Help is more realistic than most of the secular resources on this topic. A lot of western self-help resources aim at an unrealistic high. They aim to make you think that you can achieve anything, have everything, definitely be rich, and achieve your dreams. Not all of them are like this, but too many are.

Islamic Self Help is more grounded. Muslims know that life is a test. We will be tested with failure, loss of wealth, and difficulty. We won’t get everything we desire in this world. That is for Paradise. As a result, we have a more realistic approach to self-help.

Our approach focuses on how to live a contented life, work hard, do your best, trust Allah, accept what is outside your control and live a productive lifestyle. The focus is on being, not achieving. Because we can all be better, but achieving a goal is limited to our Qadar.

Do you really need Islamic Self-Help? : Why do you think that Muslims need to come back to Islam when it comes self-improvement?

AMIK: So many self-improvement resources today are materialistic or hedonistic in nature. They focus too much on money and wealth as the core source of happiness, or on the fulfillment of desires as the main source of pleasure. As Muslims, we have to believe that happiness comes from obedience to Allah, which often means controlling our desires, suppressing our negative desires, and being content with less wealth.

As with any other aspect of our lives, Muslims need to come back to Islam in this area because our relationship with Allah must come first before anything else, which includes our money and desires. This is often lost when you only study secular resources on this topic.

Islamic Self-Help and Muslim Hit and Run : I see a quite a number of people who positioned themselves as Muslim motivator but when you look at their content, it is only a rehash of secular content with an Islamic label.

AMIK: Copycat-style work, unfortunately, it is common with our generation of Muslims. They see something that works in other cultures and think that just copying it and giving it a Muslim label is enough to make it Islamic. This is because they lack the in-depth knowledge of Islam to critically analyze what they are teaching and separate the Islamic from the unIslamic.

This is one advantage I have, in that I am an Islamic Studies graduate and a Self-Help Coach. So I critically analyze all Self Help teachings and reject those that conflict with Islam. Let me give you a common example: Most Self-Help coaches will teach you that you can achieve anything you imagine and that “you are the captain of your own ship” but as Muslims, we know that our Qadar is determined by Allah, and only in Paradise will we have everything we desire.

So we can only achieve whatever Allah allows for us, and “you may be the captain of your own ship, but Allah controls the ocean and the waves”.

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The Acid Test

Halalop: How does someone differentiates and filters western self-help improvement so it would not compromise their Aqeedah?


We need to learn to think critically, to be able to critically analyze any movie, book, lecture or resource in light of the teachings of Islam. So that we can separate the good from the evil. We cannot allow ourselves to be blind receptacles of information. The first step is to study Aqeedah and Islam under qualified authentic teachers, but after that critical thinking is crucial.

Approach every idea you encounter in life with “Does this conflict with Islam or not?’ If it does, leave it. If it doesn’t, you can use that idea in your life.

How To Increase Your Rizq Increasing income is the most important topic to everyone especially in this uncertain times. Can Islamic self-help offer a solutions to this issue?.

AMIK: This explains why my article 6 Spiritual causes of increase in Rizq is the most shared article on my website. People clearly are looking for guidance on how to earn better.

However, what Islam teaches us about money is complex. It can be summarized as:

1) The amount of wealth we earn in our lives is already predetermined

2) Our primary concern is to make sure our earnings and spending are Halal

3) We should focus on generating Barakah in our wealth through good deeds like charity and taking care of relatives

4) We must work hard but be content with what we earn at the end of the day

5) Live within your means and avoid debt

So Islam doesn’t have any teachings that guarantee wealth, or will definitely make us more wealthy. Rather, Islam teaches that loss of wealth is one of the tests of life and how we react to it is what matters.

Again, Islam focuses on being our best, not achieving a certain level of finance. If a Muslim works hard, takes care of family, gives charity, is content with what he has at the end of the month, and lives within his means, then he is doing what Allah has asked. If Allah wills, his hard work will eventually pay off in this world and he may become wealthy, which itself is a test. If not, then he will still be rewarded for being his best in the Afterlife where the real wealth lies.

At the end, as Muslims our focus is on Allah and the Afterlife. Our wealth is simply a tool to earn Allah’s blessings and build our Akhirah. So our priorities are different from people who don’t believe in Allah or the Afterlife. Our priorities are guided by the Quran, which teaches us that there are more important things to worry about in this world than wealth and our desires.

Wrapping Up

There you have it our interview with Shaykh AMIK.  We believe will be one of the influential figure in the field of Islamic self help in the years to come.  We would recommend that you check out 6 Spiritual causes of increase in RizqLastly we would like to thank Shaykh AMIK for taking the time in giving us the interview.

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